Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Like candy at Halloween, it’s hard to resist making New Year’s resolutions. And career-related goals are especially popular. While establishing work resolutions now can help you increase your marketability, it’s not uncommon to lose sight of them as the year progresses.

However, whether it’s simply finding a job or improving your current work situation, successfully accomplishing a resolution has a lot to do with how you approach it. Following are several tactics to help you set a goal you’ll be sure to achieve.

Don’t make the resolution unattainable. It’s good that you’re ambitious, but setting a goal of moving from coordinator to creative director in just one year is unrealistic. Instead, you might focus on particular steps you know you’ll need to make your objective a reality within five years. Your resolution might include setting up a meeting with a creative director, for instance, to find out how he or she got the position and to ask about specific actions you can take to do the same.

Money is another area where it’s easy to be unrealistic when making a resolution. While a 20% raise sounds great, it’s not likely something that’s attainable unless you’re in sales, where commissions can affect an individual’s overall salary from year to year. Instead, make a 5% raise your goal for the coming year and a 20% increase something you’ll aim for over three to five years.

Don’t make too many resolutions. If you’re a typical, over-achieving creative professional, your list might look something like this: update portfolio, take top five clients out to dinner, reorganize files and take advanced Flash course. But are you really going to achieve all of these goals in one year? Making too many resolutions is one of the reasons most of us don’t achieve any of them. We’re overwhelmed by our own ambition. To avoid this recipe for failure, pick one goal, such as "joining one professional organization and going to most meetings." You’ll be much more likely to attain it, and you’ll be ready to move on to another resolution the following year.

Don’t be vague. If your resolution is general, such as "doing better work," it’s going to be difficult to measure your progress. After all, what counts as "better work," and do your boss and coworkers agree on the definition? Be more specific, such as "meet all deadlines at work." That way, you’ll know if you’re measuring up or not.

Don’t forget to tell others. We often need a little support to achieve our resolutions. Tell friends and family about your objective and ask them to check in with you on your progress. They can remind you of the reasons for your commitment to this particular goal if you seem to be "falling off the wagon." Sharing your resolution also gives you an extra incentive to follow through. After all, you won’t be letting only yourself down if you don’t achieve it.

Establishing a career goal—and setting yourself up for success in achieving it—can help you advance in your field. The key is to make it realistic and establish action items that enable you to achieve your resolution. Whether it’s simply finding a job or improving your current position, making a commitment to professional development is a positive way to start the new year.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.